By Cynthia Wolff
Our health needs sometimes make us feel like we have no choices. Much of that feeling is related to costs. Every time we go to the doctor, there is a co-pay. Every time we have to refill a prescription, there is a co-pay.
Some prescription co-pays are so high it feels like we’re paying more than full price. Yet, we have to have those medications. Medicare’s hospice coverage provides some relief and returns choice for those who qualify for it.
“Most people don’t realize hospice is part of the Medicare benefit until we tell them,” said Pam O’Leary, Yolo Hospice manager of social workers. “They are pleasantly surprised to find out hospice is a covered benefit and that there is no co-pay or deductible.”
The Medicare hospice benefit is available to Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, six months or less. All health care decisions related to the patient’s terminal illness are directed by an individualized plan of care managed by the hospice team and the patient’s physician. Hospice care is a choice to receive care that emphasizes comfort through pain and symptom management.
Hospice is a provided by Part A of Medicare’s benefits. Medical equipment, supplies and medications for comfort related to the terminal diagnosis are paid for by the hospice provider. When you choose a hospice provider it is similar to choosing an HMO or PPO to manage your Medicare coverage. Like the HMO/PPO, the hospice becomes responsible for authorizing care and treatments.
At Yolo Hospice, the clinical, spiritual and social service needs are provided by a highly trained, dedicated and compassionate team of professionals.
If a life-limiting illness has been diagnosed, the Medicare beneficiary has the option to choose the hospice program to provide care. Patients and family members may decide they want to pursue further aggressive treatment. Disenrolling from hospice care and choosing to have services covered by Medicare Part A & B is always an option.
“All people have to do is call us,” O’Leary said. “That’s our job. We are experienced in dealing with Medicare. We do it for you. You call us any time you need anything. Our nurses and social workers are here to answer questions and will work with you to determine what’s needed and get it.”
Yolo Hospice will guide you through the health care maze to determine if hospice care if the right choice. Yolo Hospice is able to answer your questions and available as a resource to you. Call 530-758-5566 to talk about services, or visit www.yolohospice.org to learn more.
— Cynthia Wolff is Yolo Hospice’s clinical manager. This column is published monthly.